Welcome to the Fantasy Football Scout Guide to Blank Gameweek 31. A reduced fixture list this week and no early kick-off means a later than usual FPL deadline of 2pm. Plenty of time to make those last minute transfers and switch the armband back and forth a few more times.
The business end of the season starts here. The first major Blank Gameweek will be immediately followed by the first major Double Gameweek. In preparing for this period FPL managers have opted for a variety of strategies to maximise points returns, the most popular of which involve using the Free Hit chip either this Gameweek or next.
At the time of writing only 38% of the 8,000+ managers who have taken part in our poll will be fielding a full 11 players. 70% of managers polled will be taking at least one hit this week. Amongst the top 10,000 managers, 22% have used their Free Hit chip already and 31% have used their second Wildcard. Before making any transfers, we estimate these elite managers have on average seven players starting this week.
What does all this mean? In a word – opportunity.
With most managers unlikely to field a full complement of players, it means those who do should be at an advantage. Especially if you haven’t had to take a hit, either because you are playing the Free Hit chip or through careful planning.
However, if you are part of the estimated 70% who will be taking a hit, it’s a good week to do it. As the FPL General observes in his opinion piece:
The way the Blanks are falling this season (in 31 and 33) makes it easier to take a -4 to get a player who plays in both Gameweeks, especially for those who plan to use the Free Hit chip in Double Gameweek 32 and the second Wildcard in Gameweek 34.
Legomané remarks in his hot topic that this should reduce the 4 point cost of a hit to zero if you are getting rid of a player without a fixture in either Gameweek.
When weighing up transfers this week, it’s worth noting that the FA Cup tie between Watford and Crystal Palace kicks-off at 12:15pm today – this means that we should know the result of the match before the 2pm deadline.
Why does the FA Cup matter to us FPL managers? Well, as Holly Shand explains in FPL Question Time:
We should have a good idea whether Watford v Fulham or Newcastle v Crystal Palace will go ahead in Blank Gameweek 33 around the Blank Gameweek 31 deadline.
If Newcastle get to play in Blank Gameweek 33 as well as 31, this increases the appeal of their options, meaning a hit for one of their players this weekend carries less risk.
So which players are worth bringing in?
To an extent this will depend on how you are using your chips. Of the three main strategies outlined last month, one includes deploying the Free Hit chip this week. For those on that path Legomané started an FH31 RMT thread and, for members only, David prepared four excellent articles looking in-depth at the best goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards to buy.
However, as Neale mentioned when outlining the three main strategies, you can achieve success by going down a completely different route:
Last season, Yusuf Shiekh Wildcarded in Gameweek 25, Bench Boosted in Gameweek 37 and used his Triple Captain chip in Gameweek 38 – and finished first in the world.
This week, for FPL managers who have strayed from the main path, we’ve had two fascinating contributions from the community: Deulofail champions using the Free Hit chip in Gameweek 38, while Chris Kish has some thoughts for those who have already played their Wildcard and Free Hit chips.
Our Scout Picks which, like a Free Hit chip, feature the best players for the coming Gameweek – include two Liverpool attackers. Salah and Mané both make the cut. The pair also headline David’s Captain Sensible article this week. An enticing fixture away to Fulham is leading many to consider using the Triple Captain chip.
It should be mentioned that Mané did not feature in any of the 54 photos released by Liverpool of their Friday afternoon training session. However nothing about a potential injury was mentioned in their press conference, and Liverpool don’t play until tomorrow. In fact, as Neale reports in his Team News Round-up, Klopp was singing Mané’s praises.
The reason the pendulum has swung from two Liverpool defenders to two Liverpool attackers is Mané’s outstanding form. Is this simply recency bias? As J0E asked on Tuesday’s Scoutcast, certainly Mané is in outstanding form – two goals against Burnley was followed up in midweek with a brace against Bayern Munich.
Bournemouth also provide two attacking players for this week’s Scout Picks in the shape of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser. With home fixtures in both Gameweeks 31 and 33, Bournemouth players offer appealing value – a hot topic discusses their potential, there was debate on the Scoutcast including a look at budget goalkeeper Artur Boruc, and an article highlighting Callum Wilson’s flat-track bully tag.
Players from Chelsea, Leicester and West Ham are also fancied this week ahead of favourable fixtures. With many managers needing to transfer in players for Gameweek 31, this could mean selling players who have increased markedly in value. For those who purchased Pogba and Jiménez when they were considerably cheaper this poses a tricky dilemma.
It can put you in a position of weakness when you have a lot of value tied up in a player.
However there’s an added dimension to this way of thinking because many will want to buy players such as Pogba and Jiménez for either their Free Hit chip next Gameweek or Wildcards later on. A riveting debate took place on the Scoutcast about whether it was right to keep or sell such players.
Elsewhere on site, G-Whizz provided his regular DS stats, fixtures and clean sheet odds, Greyhead reviewed The Great and The Good – Mark is now into the top 1,000 overall – and Rotation’s Alter Ego supplied his handy summary of all the team news.
Away from FPL, Johannes (formerly known as Niemi) has kindly contributed two articles on Eliteserien, looking at price changes and providing a team guide. And Geoff asked if anyone will be playing Allsvenskan Fantasy this season? The Fantasy game for the top division in Sweden. Fantasy addicts will not go hungry this summer!
If you’re a member and are yet to get to grips with the custom statistics tables, you can view this movie for an explanation of how they work. Also, remember to tag them so that people can find the tables with ease.
The second round of the Fantasy Football Scout Cup saw another former winner depart with Wild Rover losing out to Lal Toofan on overall rank following a drawn match. David brought us all the latest from the competition including the draw for the next round – 128 managers are through to round three. The final is scheduled for Gameweek 37.
In TorresMagic’s Last Man Standing competition the safety score in Gameweek 30 was 46, this saw 64 managers eliminated. 237 teams are through to Gameweek 31, when the threshold for elimination moves up to 25%, a minimum of 60 managers will depart. The final will take place in Gameweek 37.
I mentioned last week that the current record points total for an FPL winner is 2,668 set by Jon Reeson (aka Westfield Irons) way back in the 2009/10 season. Jon was the first ever member of FFS to win FPL, and it’s worth appreciating that he achieved his mammoth points score at a time when multiple chips weren’t around – he only had one Wildcard to use that season. The second Wildcard – at first just available in January – wasn’t introduced until the following year.
Over the remaining eight Gameweeks of the season Adam needs 599 points to beat Jon’s longstanding mark. He still has his Wildcard, Free Hit, and Bench Boost chips available.
Mark extended his lead over Chris Atkinson (aka RMT’s Professor) to 67 points in the FFS Mods & Cons as he moved up to 829th position overall. Mark has had four previous top 1,000 finishes and last week became the number one manager in our Live Hall of Fame, overtaking Sean Tobin.
Jack Baxendale is the new leader in RedLightning’s Top 10k Any Season mini-league. He captained Raheem Sterling on his way to 98 points in Gameweek 30, and has shot up to 58th overall. Jack is in his fifth FPL season, his best previous finish being 5,720 in 2016/17. He has not yet used any of his chips, apart from his First Wildcard which he played in Gameweek 20 – he has had nine successive green arrows since then.
Elior Carsenti has regained the lead from JOZ V in RedLightning’s January to May League He has had seven green arrows in eight Gameweeks since he played his Second Wildcard in Gameweek 23. He has risen from 49,997 to 3,691 since Gameweek 22. He has not yet used his other three chips.
Karen Goh is the new leader in RedLightning’s The Last Ten Gameweeks mini-league. This is Karen’s third season and by far her best, she is currently in 21,583 overall. Karen played her Second Wildcard in Gameweek 29 and then captained Sterling in Gameweek 30 for a score of 102.
Jay Placey’s mini-league, The Home Stretch, also began scoring in Gameweek 30. Out of the 306 teams in it the top four all scored 100 points or more.
If you are running a community tournament and would like the latest scores included in future Community Round-Ups, please email us a summary of the current leaders and a link to your league, spreadsheet or head-to-head competition at firstname.lastname@example.org